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Posted by on Mar 7, 2014 in Featured, International | 0 comments

Ukraine: America’s monopoly ends…Russia a new superpower?

Putin and Obama

It had to happen sooner than later. The US now seems to be realising that foreign affairs and international relations are best managed through discussion and dialogue rather than twisting people’s arms and invading other nations, a la Iraq, Afghanistan, and other countries. An indication to this effect came when the US President Barack Obama urged Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, in a one-hour phone call Thursday, to “pursue a diplomatic solution to his military incursion into Crimea, including direct talks between Russia and Ukraine with outside observers.”

“President Obama indicated that there is a way to resolve the situation diplomatically, which addresses the interests of Russia, the people of Ukraine, and the international community,” the White House said. This is in sharp contrast to the American style of diplomacy of assaulting a country first and then talking. The world should heave a sigh of relief. It is always good to have two bullies in the neighbourhood for balance of power, as also to ensure that they keep fighting among themselves!!! More here…

The US administration received a jolt when, despite making loud noises, the European Union did not rush into imposing sanctions against Russia. In fact, as German businesses went on record against economic sanctions, French President François Hollande seemed to have softened the French government’s tone, calling on Europe to apply “sufficiently strong pressure, diminish tension, open the way to dialogue and finally allow Ukraine to decide its own fate”. More here…

While President Obama is trying to keep the hot line open with Russia, he has ordered sanctions against Russia and flexed muscles probably to keep the hawks in America’s political establishment in good humour. In addition to sending six F-15s and one KC-135 refueling tanker to augment the four F-15s currently participating in NATO’s air policing mission in the Baltics, the U.S. Navy is sending the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Truxtun (above)to the Black Sea to conduct combined training and theater security cooperation engagements with Romanian and Bulgarian Naval forces, according to U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa. More here…

The Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that Russia will not go to war with the people of Ukraine, but will use its troops to protect citizens, if radicals with clout in Kiev now try to use violence against Ukrainian civilians, particularly ethnic Russians. Putin, who was given a mandate by the Russian senate to use military force to protect civilians in Ukraine, said there is no need for such an action yet. See here…

Meanwhile Ukraine lurched toward break-up Thursday “when lawmakers in Crimea unanimously declared they wanted to join Russia and would put the decision to voters in 10 days — and Russian lawmakers pushed a bill to facilitate a handover. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s hand was almost certainly behind the dramatic move, but it was not clear whether he is aiming for outright annexation, or simply strengthening his hand in talks with the West. See here…

The ordering of US sanctions seems more to please the hawks at home rather than to confront or pressurise Russia. “The response is unlikely to severely inconvenience the intended targets. Taken unilaterally without the backing of European allies, the sanctions only affect funds within the U.S. or controlled by U.S. financial institutions abroad. Additionally, the visa restrictions only affect travel to the U.S. Administration officials said the U.K. and Germany were both consulted before the sanctions were put in place. More here…

In a cleverly-worded piece, Henry Kissinger, America’s veteran and shrewed diplomat, has tweaked the ears of the US administration. Kissinger noted: The United States needs to avoid treating Russia as an aberrant to be patiently taught rules of conduct established by Washington…The West must understand that, to Russia, Ukraine can never be just a foreign country. Russian history began in what was called Kievan-Rus. The Russian religion spread from there. Ukraine has been part of Russia for centuries, and their histories were intertwined before then. And that understanding Russian history and psychology has not been a strong point of U.S. policymakers.” See here…

In a comical turn of events, a baffled Obama administration has turned to Pentagon to psycho-analyse Putin and world leaders. This shows that the US adminsitration is seriously handicapped in conducting diplomacy by the book, esepcially after a decade-long habit of twisting other nations’ arms 😉 “…A Pentagon research team is studying the body movements of Russian President Vladimir Putin and other world leaders in order to better predict their actions and guide U.S. policy, Pentagon documents and interviews show. The “Body Leads” project backed by the Office of Net Assessment (ONA), the think tank reporting to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, uses the principles of movement pattern analysis to predict how leaders will act. More here…

President Obama is also under pressure that the US should give up its adventurist policies and be sober and realistic. “Frustrated cold warriors filling armchairs in Washington’s outdated ‘strategic’ think tanks will continue to howl at the moon, but US policy should be run by the sober. The president should work with the EU and Russia to preserve Ukraine’s territorial unity, support free elections and allow Ukraine to be part of both the EU and the Russian customs union, while pledging that NATO will not extend itself into Ukraine. It is time to reduce tensions, not draw red lines, flex rhetorical muscles and fan the flames of folly.” See here…

Traditionally, India has been a non-aligned country. But in the past decade, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has become a pro-US ally. So, it was surprising that the Indian government cold shouldered America’s call for sanctions against Russia, and instead suggested discussion and dialogue to sort out the issue. More here...

Interestingly, India still figures as Russia’s top allies, according to the International Business Times. India and Russia signed a declaration of Strategic Partnership in 2000, with the aim of consolidating “close and friendly ties to mutual benefit”. The strategic partnership, defined by India’s Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai as “special and privileged”, comprised five points: political, counter terrorism cooperation, defence, civil nuclear energy and space. See here…

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